So You Want to Be Great?

pyramids.jpg Often times, Christians balk at the thought of becoming great.  When we hear things like “be all you can be,” “pursue greatness,” and “live up to your full potential,” we often condemn such thinking as self-centered and worldly.  Granted, when the world says things like this, they usually do mean it in such a way.  They are telling us to draw our strength from ourselves rather than Christ, they are telling us that life is about us making our mark on the world, and they are assuming that greatness is fame, popularity, wealth, and other false ways of identifying success.  We know that the world has it wrong; in fact, they have it totally backward.  But is it wrong to aspire to greatness, if we know what true greatness is?

True greatness is living as those who put their values and investments in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy.  They send on riches for the life to come by denying themselves in the here and now.  They are also those who are wise stewards of the gifts that God has given them, not wasting their talents and abilities for selfish things, but doing what God enables as means of service for Him and the kingdom. 

True greatness is also servanthood.  Greatness is not for those who strive to get to the top of the pecking order so that they can rule their earthly kingdom as a means of self-gratification by the indulgence of the privileges of power.  Leadership is fine if it is viewed as a stewardship and gift from God.  Yet it is not acceptable to “lord it over” others and get some selfish pleasure out of being in authority.  Even leaders are to be servants.  Jesus says in Matthew 20:25-28, “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  God may entrust us with positions of authority and responsibility on earth, and we will be held accountable for how we serve in them.  But the key is that we serve in such positions and in all positions.  True greatness is losing one’s life that we may find it and save it, not in the sense of salvation but in the sense of finding true joy, the abundant life, and earning eternal rewards.  This is a works-based thing, though of course the works are done through faith and by grace, as all things that bear fruit and honor God are done.  Yet faith has works, and these works, when done by faith, are what will either keep us from rewards or enable us to receive rewards. 

True greatness is laying down our lives so that others can be all that they can be in and through Christ.  It is putting the interests of others ahead of our own.  It is viewing our entire life’s purpose and our entire existence as one of a servant, first and foremost of God but secondly of our brothers and sisters on the earth.  Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”  We have opportunity to do good for others only as long as we are alive and functioning on this earth.  God may call us home at any moment.  At that point our race run for Christ is over, and our eternity is set.  If our first life lands out of bounds of God’s desires, that is how we will be judged in eternity.  This is why it is so important that we understand true greatness and that we pursue it for the duration of our lives.  We don’t have to live in fear that we may not measure up to God’s standards because our righteousness and salvation is in and through Christ.  We can rest in that fact.  Yet our honor and rewards, whatever they may be, will be dictated based upon how we walk by faith after being saved. 

Do we want to be great in God’s kingdom?  If we do, let us live with an eternal perspective, let us send on treasure ahead, let us value others ahead of ourselves, let us seek the kingdom above all things, let us walk by faith, and let us live as servants who value our lives only in light of how God values them.  How did Christ value His life?  He laid it down so that others might live.  At the end of the day and the end of life for that matter, the only opinion that counts is that of our “Audience of One.”  If we want to be great in God’s kingdom, we must learn to be the servant of all.

   

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